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Seaver Cup: Southern Cal rallies for dramatic victory

LA QUINTA, Calif. (Nov. 19, 2008) — For the second consecutive time, an eight-man Southern California Golf Association team rallied on the final day, this time overcoming a four-point deficit to score a 25-23 win over the Northern California GA in the sixth biennial Seaver Cup at PGA West.

Two years ago, the SCGA rallied from a seven-point deficit on the final day to forge a 24-24 tie to retain the cup. Overall, the SCGA now leads the series, 3-1-2. The next matches will be played in 2011.

Trailing 14-10 after the four-ball and foursomes competitions yesterday, the SCGA won the singles matches 15-9, on the Pete Dye Stadium Course. Jason Bittick of Coto de Caza and 2008 SCGA Amateur champion Kevin Marsh of Henderson, NV each swept all three portions of their matches (one point is awarded for the front nine, one point for back nine, and one point for the overall match, with halved portions earning 1/2 point for each player).

Two of the eight team members for each association had to be seniors and they played pivotal roles in the SCGA victory. Rich Tolly of Laguna Hills, the 2007 SCGA Senior Amateur champion, rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 405-yard 18th hole to secure the victory for the SCGA. With that birdie, Tolly won the back nine against Jim Knoll of Sunnyvale and squared the overall match; those 1.5 points proved to be the margin of victory.

“I didn’t know what that final putt was for,” said Tolly after his match. "And I didn’t want to know. I figured things were pretty tight because everyone was standing around the 18th green.”

Tolly was 186 yards from the hole and pulled out a 4-Rescue club.

“Normally I can’t hit that club that far,” said Tolly "But I was pretty juiced up and figured I could get it there.”

The ball landed on the front of the green and rolled up to within 15 feet, setting the stage for the final putt.

The SCGA’s other senior, Boyd Martin of Corona del Mar, won 2.5 points against reigning California Golf Association Senior Amateur champion Jeff Burda of Modesto. Martin termed the ninth hole, when he got up and down from a bunker for a half point, as a key moment in the match.

On the back nine, Martin won the 11th hole with a birdie 4 and also made birdie 4 on the famed 16th hole (avoiding its 20-foot deep bunker in the process). A par 3 on the 17th hole, with a green surrounded by rocks and water, closed out the match.

Other SCGA point winners included 2004 SCGA Amateur champion Tim Hogarth of Northridge, who won 2.5 points from Randy Haag of Burlingame, and 1999 SCGA Amateur champion John Pate of Santa Barbara,who won 2 points against Jonathan Carlson of Kelseyville.

For the NCGA, Jamie Looper of Oakdale won 3 points by sweeping former three-time SCGA Amateur champion Scott McGihon of Bermuda Dunes, and Brett Viboch of Lafayette took 2.5 points from David Bartman of Los Angeles.

In the day’s most lopsided match, Bittick birdied four consecutive holes on the back side to take control of his match against Hollinsead, the reigning NCGA Amateur Stroke Play champion; with the usual match-play concessions, he shot 4 under par for 17 holes. Marsh was 1 under par in his match against Marin and birdied the 18th hole to win the back nine and the overall match.

--Story by Bob Thomas, SCGA

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